Well, what a result for Wigan at the weekend! I was delighted for Roberto Martinez, a good man who talks intelligently about football whenever I hear him speak. He set his team up well, got the players motivated and confident and they went out and did what they were capable of against a severely lacklustre Man City side, who should certainly be asking questions of themselves if they can't get up for an FA Cup Final at the end of a trophy-free season.
There are two schools of thought about how this will affect Tuesday's game at Arsenal. It will either give Wigan a supreme boost of confidence ahead of one of the most important games in their history, or it will be a case of after the Lord Mayor's show and they will suffer a huge comedown against a more than capable side.
It's harsh on the Latics having to play against Arsenal so soon after their cup win, and an Arsenal team who are motivated and desperate to overhaul Spurs to boot, but that's the nature of this stage of the season and Wigan can have no complaints about the timing of the36 fixtures they had to play before this one. They're in this position because they've not been good enough over the course of the season, it's that simple.
What's more, Arsenal haven't played for ten days and are as fresh as it gets for this stage of the year, and it's very hard to see Martinez's charges having anything like the quality at the back to keep the Gunners at bay as they did with City, especially with the personnel issues they have in those positions at present.
Back in 1998, when I won the league with Arsenal, we secured the title with three games to go on a Saturday against Everton and then played Liverpool almost immediately afterwards on the Tuesday. I can remember running out on to that pitch wondering how I was going to get through 90 minutes; my brain had shut down almost subconsciously despite my best efforts after all the intensity of going for a league title, and my legs had done the same. We were beaten 3-0 that day and it honestly could have been 10-0. This is similar to what Martinez faces with his side - it may not even be possible for them to keep focused after such an occasion, their brains and bodies may well have decided that enough is enough after the emotional high of such a triumph.
I can see Wigan perhaps having just about enough in the tank to have a competitive first half at the Emirates, but after that I'm not so sure. Arsenal should have the freshness and quality to pick them off fairly easily, especially with Wigan's open style of play, and that, I'm afraid, will be that. It's unfair that Roberto Martinez is likely to have the dubious honour of being the first manager to win the FA Cup and be relegated from the Premier League in the same season but that's football. One of the reasons Wigan are where they are is because they've tried to win absolutely every game in the league and the better teams have picked them off because they're generally not that difficult to break down. And that's exactly what's likely to happen against Arsenal.
Because the visitors' adrenaline is likely to keep them going for a period in this game, I'm enthusiastic about backing Draw/Arsenal in the Half Time/Full Time market at 5.04/1. I also like the idea of goals; Wigan aren't good enough at the back against a team that's scored on average almost two goals a game this season and so Over 2.5 Goals looks like a must bet. It's not a great price, just 1.538/15, but they're all good prices when they come in and I'm confident that we'll see the net ripple at least a few times.
Back Draw/Arsenal in the Half Time/Full Time market at 5.04/1
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.538/15